Bahamas island pushes sustainable travel

Star Island, a private-island destination currently under development in the Bahamas will open its doors in late 2009, its mix of high-luxury and high-sustainability could be the talk of the travel industry.

The destinaton in the Out-Island area of the Bahamas may also be the inspiration for “green” resorts worldwide.

“This is a very exciting time in the field of green-technology and sustainable tourism,” says David Sklar, the architect, CEO and visionary behind Star Island. “Resorts are harnessing natural energy sources, building with sustainable materials, recycling, decorating with eco-furniture and serving organic foods, but these advancements have never been brought together in one place before. Star Island plans to do just that and, in the process, become a showcase for the latest and most innovative technologies, materials and practices.”

The site of this ambitious project is a 35-acre island in a protected sound just 10 minutes by boat from Harbour Island. Star Island will offer 5- star luxury through a mix of private homes, resort residences and bungalows, complete with upscale facilities (spa, restaurants, bars, pools, tennis courts and a “no-fuel” marina).

Star Island’s real difference is its steadfast commitment to preserving its immediate surroundings and mitigating the impact of tourism on the Earth as a whole. Every part of its development and operation will be fully sustainable from the materials used in its construction to its groundbreaking alternative-energy sources, from the shade-grown organic coffee served in the restaurants to the renewable-bamboo sheets on the beds, from its recycling systems to its off-site community programs.


A key member of his development team is Scott Sklar (no relation), the founder and CEO of The Stella Group, Ltd., an alternative energy integration and analysis firm that works with private and governmental clients like the USDOE and US Department of Defense. As Star Island’s Senior Energy Advisor, Scott is exploring the viability of such energy sources as solar, wind and microhydro. “When we’re finished Phase 1 of the development,” says Scott, “Star Island will be entirely off the grid, 100% energy self-sufficient.” This carbon-neutral power is cleaner, extremely reliable and has no negative impact on the island experience.

The same rigid principles are being applied at all levels of the construction process. Designed to meet or exceed LEED-certification requirements, the structures will be built with eco-friendly systems like cold-formed steel (CFS), with the same strength as regular steel but made out of primarily recycled material. Using Insulated Concrete Forms (lightweight forms that are filled with concrete mixed on site), Star Island will reduce construction time, shipping demands and waste, plus they benefit local labor. Operationally, the buildings will incorporate the latest technologies, such as high-efficiency LED lighting and geothermal temperature-control devices.

Behind the scenes, state-of-the-art management systems will convert most of the island’s non-recyclable waste to energy, fuel and fertilizer. The landscaping will root out invasive species and favor indigenous plants that require minimal irrigation. Star Island’s water needs will be answered by a rain-harvesting system and underground storage tanks. Drinking water will be purified through reverse osmosis systems.

“We’re not just looking at existing technologies and best practices,” says David Sklar. “Star Island is an environment for testing and demonstrating emerging techniques. We want to be a magnet for ideas. We want to show what’s possible.”